Guatemala is a land of majestic mountains, volcanoes, beautiful natural lakes and dense tropical rainforests. It is also the heart of the Mayan civilization which flourished from 500AD to 900AD.
During the 1980s and '90s a genocidal military terror was launched and tens of thousands of mainly indigenous peoples were massacred. Caught in this war were communities that lived on the banks of the Chixoy River, where the Chixoy Dam was built. When the Maya-Achi people of Rio Negro refused to move to make way for the dam, hundreds of women and children were massacred. The affected communities have been engaged in a decade-long struggle to seek reparations for the legacy of the dam and the war.
The Guatemalan government plans to build close to 20 hydroelectric projects in the next 20 years in order to diversify the country's energy supply. The government intends to lessen its dependency on imported oil and increase generation with national hydroelectric resources. In the future the government plans to generate close to 58% of its electricity from hydroelectric sources, 37% from coal, and the rest with geothermal and oil.
Among the most controversial projects planned in Guatemala is the Xalala Dam on the Chixoy River, which would affect more than 10,000 indigenous people who firmly oppose the project. We are working with Puentes de Paz in their support of communities affected by Xalala.